Open City Documentary Festival

across London
Oct 10 — Nov 21

Moving A Still Artifact: Film Critiques the Museum (Online)

Tuesday evenings across 7 weeks 7-9pm UK time

By drawing from the long and rich thread throughout cinema history centred around collecting and museum collections, this short course will focus on the filmmaker’s potential to transform these cultural institutions.

Price £165 / £155 Students / £145 UCL Students

Museums and cultural institutions dedicated to the procurement, study, and display of cultural objects are at a critical moment in their history, as the decolonisation of their ownership, representation, accessibility, and funding are being brought to the forefront. Art Historian Sophie Berrebi succinctly stated, “Todays’ museums are undergoing a profound mutation that is fed by social, economic, and political factors, which force them to reconsider their mode of action, their routines of collecting and exhibiting.”

Moving a Still Artifact: Film critiques the museum led by filmmaker Jessica Sarah Rinland (Those That, at a Distance, Resemble Another), draws from the long and rich thread throughout cinema history centred around collecting and museum collections; sites of cultural significance have proved to be, and continue to be productive subjects for films. Participants will explore various modalities of filmic discourse to create a film produced from their enquiries into museums, the objects that live within them, archival and found footage. By exploring the museum through film – from an architectural setting or didactic experience, to the subversive – the workshop will focus on the filmmaker’s potential to transform these cultural institutions. Expose the “other side” of the museological practice, of collection, knowledge production, disposition and appropriation using the visual and sonic medium of film.

When reflecting on the depiction of cultural objects in Statues Also Die (1953) – Chris Marker, Ghislain Cloquet, and Alain Resnais’ critique of the ways Western museums decontextualise and display African art objects – Sophie Berrebi describes how the attributes of film – image, sound, and montage – act as revelatory devices, exposing the “other side” of a cultural object “creating a rupture in the museum’s order”. This investigation will allow for reflection upon the history of museums i.e., cabinet of curiosities and private collections, as well as historic house-museums and virtual object and institutional tours.

Session 1: Intro to films that critique the museum


Session 2: Display, Archive, Access

Examples include films by Chris Marker, Amie Siegel and Nicolas Galanin, and readings by Jorge Luis Borges, Tony Bennett and James Clifford.

Session 3: The Making of objects and their voice

Examples include films by Patrick Hough, and readings by Martin Heidegger and Svetlana Alpers.

Session 4: Site visit and shoot


Session 5: Replicas and Trade

Examples include films by Ilsa Barbash, and readings by Mari Lending and Sophie Berrebi.

Session 6: Repatriation

Examples include films by Nii Kwate Owoo and Christian Nyampeta, and readings by Miranda Lowe.

Session 7: Presentation and Crits of student work


This course will be delivered via online distance learning, and students will require a computer or other internet connected device.

This course is taking place for 7 Tuesday evenings (7pm to 9pm) from 10th October to 21st November 2023, with a break on 31st October.

Booking closes at 1pm on 10th October.

Image credit: An Excavation, dir. by Maeve Brennan, UK, 2022

If you have any questions about this course, please get in touch with or call +442031084774.



Jessica Sarah Rinland


Jessica Sarah Rinland is an Argentine-British artist filmmaker and educator. She is a recipient of numerous prizes including Special Mention at Locarno Film Festival and Best Film at DocumentaMadrid, Primer Premio at BIM – Bienale de Imagen en Movimiento, Arts + Science Award at Ann Arbor Film Festival, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Schnitzer prize for excellence in the arts in 2017. Her work has been exhibited at University of Tennessee’s Downtown Gallery, Southwark Park Galleries, Taipei Biennial, Somerset House and Bloomberg New Contemporaries. She has had retrospectives of her films at the Flaherty Film Seminar, Doc’s Kingdom, Aricadoc, Eureka Film Festival, Curtocircuito, London Short Film Festival and Anthology Film Archives. Her films are held in the British Film Institute’s collections. She holds a BA (Honors) in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London and a MSc in Arts, Culture and Technology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She currently teaches at Harvard Summer School and Elías Querejeta Zine Eskola.